Earn your turns: How to get started in the backcountry Part 1
- Get the proper equipment. We don't go out without a beacon, shovel, and probe. While these things may seem like an expensive requirement, they are the fundamental tools used in the backcountry in worse-case scenarios when avalanches happen. It is important to realize that an avalanche kit doesn't protect you from avalanches. Avalanche kits are meant to give you a fighting chance of surviving after you have been in an avalanche, but you are far better off not getting in an avalanche in the first place. Some of our favorite brands include Black Diamond, Backcountry Access, Mammut, and Arva.
- Ride with a friend. Avalanche risk aside, snowboarding in the mountains is dangerous and it's ideal to always have a partner (or two) when out and about. The best way to learn about the backcountry is by spending time with people who have experience. It's important to realize that without a partner or two, your avalanche kit doesn't really serve a purpose. You carry the kit to help someone else, not yourself. Your touring partners carry kits to help you if necessary.
- Take a backcountry safety course. All we can say is that if you are serious about enjoying the backcountry and staying safe, one of the best things you can do is take one of these courses. You will learn how understand snow and terrain so you can avoid avalanche terrain, and how to increase the odds of saving a life if an avalanche does happen. Find classes near you here.
- Start inbounds. If possible, earn some turns at your local ski resort before or after hours. Generally, avalanche risk at ski areas is managed and they are quite safe. While it may not seem quite as exciting, climbing up your local ski resort can be very rewarding and is one of our favorite ways to use our Drift boards.
- Stay out of avalanche terrain. Eventually, you will want to venture out of bounds for the very best snow and experiences. Even in the true backcountry, you can stay safe by following two things: First, stay out of the backcountry when avalanche risk is high. You should have a local avalanche forecast letting you know how risky the snow is depending on conditions. Follow it. If they say risk is high, then stay out of the mountains. It's that simple. Second, Stay off slopes from 30-45 degree angles. This is where most avalanches occur. Maps like these can be viewed on your phone and make it really easy to see what slopes are risky. When in doubt, enjoy the powder on a mellower slope!
While we don't want this post about backcountry safety to scare you away, we're okay if it does scare you a little bit. The backcountry demands our respect. We love snow, snowboarding, and backcountry with all our hearts. We started Drift because of that love. We want all our customers to enjoy the backcountry safely.